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Real Zodiac Musuem Piece

Started by Cobber, May 07, 2012, 06:54:39 PM


  I mentioned some time ago I had a Zodiac story I wanted to tell but it seems I just never got around to it.  However, after a couple recent ebay listings describing their watches as museum pieces I've become sufficiently motivated to set the record straight.
  I'm going to try really hard to not make this a story about me but the watch and see if I can add something constructive to the documented history of Zodiacs. 

  Cut to the chase, one of a few Zodiacs my Dad passed down to me over the years is currently on display at the National Air Force Museum.  A few years ago the Museum was updating it's Vietnam War era exhibits and they wanted a display to honor the first service member to complete 100 missions over North Vietnam.  After reconciling available records they determined that my Dad had been the first. 
  This was a bit surprising because he wasn't even a pilot.  Originally he had been slotted as a Navigator.  This is interesting because he quickly realized he hated navigating.  Luckily, he graduated at the top of his class and was asked if he would be interested in a top secret assignment that they wouldn't even be able to disclose to him  unless he accepted it.  Given his desire to do anything but navigation he accepted their mysterious offer.
  The secret duty turned out to be that of an EWO (electronic warfare officer).  Think BAT 21, the movie with Gene Hackman.  Hackman's real life character (Iceal Hambleton) was an EWO.
  It was during his assignment as an EWO that he completed and became the first member of any flight crew to complete 100 missions over the North of Vietnam.  Once this was determined they asked my dad if he still owned anything from his time in Vietnam.  In fact he did, have a look at the link:

You'll have to click the photo select arrow to see the picture of the display.  Then there's a high res. option that will allow you to barely see the watch.

  The watch is a Zodiac 24hr Jet Aeronaut.  My Dad had given it to me at some point and I wore it as a daily wearer while going to college.  One day at the laundry mat I was pulling my clothes out of the washer and there was my Aeronaut with no hands or crystal.  Obviously, I was extremely disappointed in myself.  However, since I already had one decommissioned Zodiac stored away I figured I would just add this to my growing collection of once working watches.  Every once in a while I would pull it out and wonder if I was just kidding myself about ever doing anything with it.
Then came the day my telephone rang and it was my dad asking if I still had his 24hr Zodiac.  He explained to me about the museum's request for personal belongings that would have any relevance to the display and he seemed pretty sure this was the watch he was wearing at the time.  As mentioned before, I still had the watch.  I warned him of the condition but said I would contact a local place that had just restored another watch for me and see if they had any interest in tying to reassemble the Zodiac.  Before I could fully explain what I was trying to do the jewelery store owner offered to do a restoration free of charge.  Their only request was for something in writing from the museum so they could get a tax write off out of it.  As it turns out, the curator was happy to oblige and after they had the watch in their possession they mailed off a very nice letter to the Jeweler as did my dad.  The store now proudly displays both letters in their watch service area.  In case anyone's interested the Jewelery store is Nagi's Jewelery in Stamford, CT.

  So that's pretty much that.  Unfortunately, I didn't take pictures of it after the restoration because my dad happened to be in town at the time the store called to say they had completed the watch.  After I picked it up I handed it right over to my dad and he sent it into the museum. 

  I've been looking for a replacement for some time and there's been a couple of opportunities to snag one but for whatever reason I haven't pulled the trigger as of yet.  Hopefully, I'll pick one up before the value of these go up any more.
  Both the silver and black face models are absolutely gorgeous watches and I would have a tough time picking one over the other.  However, since my dad's was of the silver face variety that's probably the one I would go with if all things were equal.

Thanks for reading,


Marvelous story Chris. Thank you very much for sharing it with us.
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Great story, The Zodiac was a very popular watch during those times.  Most PX/BX had them and they sold like hotcakes. Dependable and not that expensive. Wish the same quality watch around now at the same price points.

Thank you for sharing


Fantastic story! Thanks for sharing 8)
Hopefully you'll find a replacement or even get this one back sometime soon.

jon p

 :wehe :ur     great story, thanks for sharing with us. zodiac watches have a real tie in with a LOT of us in that period of time. silver dial is a lot harder to find than black, keep looking. the silver is my favorite but i do own a black one.


  Thanks for the kind words everybody.  This has really got me motivated to finally do something about acquiring another 24hr Jet.

  Looking around today the only one I could find for sale was on farfo.  Unless they have a ready supply of these I think it's been there for quite a while now.  I believe I've come across it before.  Not sure what the policy here is about posting direct links to other sites selling Zodiacs is but it's not to hard to find.  After seeing what they're asking, $899 :what I guess I'm not as motivated as I thought I was.


jon p

 :wtf :wtf :wtf  $899.00, they think a LOT more of it than i do!!!!!!!  WAY OVER PRICED! keep looking.


I would think $400-500 would be a fair price.
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I know this is old news but I had to tell you how much I enjoyed reading your story about your dad completing 100 missions and the connection with his old Zodiac watch.  That is a beautiful display at the Air Force Museum that honors your father and his acheivement; you must be very proud. Thanks for sharing his story.


Hey Incountry, thanks for the kind words. I've really enojoyed reading everybody's posts on this thread and never get tired of seeing it resurrected.
I'm not sure how obvious it is when people click on the link but there's a pretty strong mention of the Zodiac company in the 2nd photo display description.
It really kind of blows my mind that vintage Zodiacs are still so reasonably priced when compared to their contemporaries and given their relevance. Not to mention their superior good looks and qualifications.

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